Explore Kefalonia’s churches and monasteries, a priceless spiritual treasure

The Monastery of St. Andrew was founded in 1579 when three local sisters-in-spirit (Benedict, Leontia, and Magdalina) bought the land where the Church of the Apostle Andrew once stood and founded a small nunnery. After taking the name Romilia, Greco-Romanian princess Roxana began her monastic life there in 1639. The rich princess dedicated a large sum of money to the monastery and brought precious spiritual treasures from Mount Athos – the holy relics of the right foot (sole)of the Apostle Andrew, with a hole from the crucifixion. The monastery is also the home of the Church-Byzantine Museum, founded in 1988. It is housed in the old church, the only building that survived the 1953 earthquake. The art treasures found there, dating back to between 1300 and 1900 AD. During the British occupation, at the beginning of the 19th century, there was a conflict between the nuns and the British,
who in 1832 temporarily stopped liturgies in the monastery and defaced its beautiful frescoes because the monastery, as a Greek Orthodox center, had a negative view of the British occupation. The monastery’s treasures and icons, as well as nun Romilia’s office, are now proudly displayed. Constant vigils are held in the monastery, and Holy Liturgy is performed every Sunday.

The Monastery of Saint Gerasimus, 15 km from Argostoli, is considered the religious center of Cephalonia. Saint Gerasimus is revered as the patron saint of the island. His remains are dressed in the saint’s funeral robes and kept in a glass vault. Saint Gerasimus was born in 1506 to the wealthy aristocratic family of Notaras. He became a monk on Mount Athos, later spending 12 years of his life in Jerusalem. He came to Cephalonia in 1555. For the first five years, he lived in a cave near Lassi but later moved to the vicinity of Valsamata, where he founded the Saint Gerasimos monastery. He cared for the poor and served as a sort of charitable institution. Cephalonians believe that he protects them and can heal them from diseases, and many islanders name their children after him. After he died, his body was twice buried and exhumed intact, which led the church to declare him a saint.
Cephalonians around the world still pray to him and worship him. On the day of the feast of Saint Gerasimos, his body is passed over to the sick and injured because it is believed that he can heal them. His body is exhibited several times a year in the monastery church during the liturgy. The protector of the island is celebrated on 16 August, when we recommend that you attend the liturgy and the traditional celebration of panigiri.

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